New Jersey Support for Veterans' Organizations from Gambling Proceeds Amendment, Public Question 1 (2013)

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Public Question 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:New Jersey Constitution
Referred by:New Jersey State Legislature
Topic:Veterans
Status:Approved Approveda
The New Jersey Support for Veterans' Organizations from Gambling Proceeds Amendment, Public Question 1, was on the November 5, 2013 ballot in the state of New Jersey as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was overwhelmingly approved.

The measure allowed veterans’ organizations to use money collected from existing games of chance, such as bingo, raffles and lotteries, to support their organizations.

Excluding an exemption for senior citizen groups, which may use the money for their own benefit, the constitution, prior to Public Question 1, allowed proceeds from games of chance to be used only for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes.[1][2]

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-16) in the legislature as Senate Concurrent Resolution 11. The bill was referred to the ballot after unanimous votes in both houses. The final vote was on June 20, 2013.[3][4]

Election results

Below are the official election results:

Public Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,372,178 81.29%
No315,86718.71%
These results are from the New Jersey Department of State.

Background

Public Question 1 was one of two measures on the New Jersey 2013 ballot. Both measures were legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Veteran issues last appeared on the ballot in 1999 when voters approved property tax deductions for veterans.

The topic of gambling and gambling funds, however, has appeared on the ballot at least three times in New Jersey.

In 2012, according to monthly revenue reports by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey's gross revenue from gaming was $127,175,057. In 2011, state gaming revenue was $142,979,656.[5][6]

Text of measure

Ballot language

The official ballot language read as follows:Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name

Constitutional Amendment to Permit Money from Existing Games of Chance to Support Veterans’ Organizations
Do you approve amending the Constitution to allow veterans’ organizations to use money collected from existing games of chance to support their organizations?
Yes
No [7]

Interpretive statement

The interpretive statement of the measure read:Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name

Interpretive statement
This amendment to the Constitution would allow veterans’ organizations to use the money collected from existing games of chance (such as bingo, lotto or raffles) to support their organizations. At present, the Constitution allows this money to be used only for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes. Currently, only senior citizen groups may use the money they collect from existing games of chance to support their groups. [7]

Constitutional changes

See also: New Jersey Constitution

Public Question 1 amended Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 2. Read the full text and see the constitutional changes here.

Support

Supporters

The amendment received unanimous approval from the legislature. It was sponsored by Senators Christopher Bateman (R-16), Dawn Addiego (R-8), James Beach (D-6) and Assemblymen Craig Coughlin (D-19), Cleopatra Tucker (D-28), Troy Singleton (D-7), Gilbert Wilson (D-5) and Herb Conaway (D-7).[3][8]

The bill was co-sponsored by Senators:

And co-sponsored by the following Assemblymen:

Arguments

  • Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32), sponsor of the measure's companion bill, said, "Cost increases in electric, gas, oil and other utilities support the need for this provision. These proceeds can help these organizations better balance their expenses and focus their energies on helping our veterans, instead of worrying about how they will be able to afford them."[4]
  • Assemblywoman Angelica M. Jimenez (D-32) said, "Many veterans' organizations must deal with increased living expenses amid dwindling donations and membership fees. We already offer this courtesy to senior citizen associations and clubs. I don't see why we can't extend it to these groups who assist veterans in need."[4]
New Jersey November 5, 2013 voter guide.
  • Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (D-19), a co-sponsor of the measure, said, "Many people today must supplement their income in order to make ends meet, and these organizations are no exception. "I hope the people of New Jersey will allow this tweak to the state constitution so we can help support these veteran groups stay afloat."[4]
  • Robert McNulty, of the New Jersey Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said that because of the current limits on how to use gambling proceeds, "We can't pay for insurance. We can't do building repairs or maintenance or upgrades. We can't do utilities. So we have to raise additional funds to pay our utilities, to pay our insurance, to do our maintenance and upkeep and so forth."[2]
  • Sen. Dawn Addiego said, "If a veterans association has to shut its doors because they can no longer pay their electric bill or afford the basic costs of their facilities, they won’t be able to continue to provide the invaluable services that their community has come to depend upon."[9]
  • Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) said, "I'm in favor of this Constitutional amendment. These organizations will be able to continue programs and their vital contributions to the community. We also have new veterans from Iraq and Desert Storm who could use a support system."[10]
  • Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-37) said, "I fully support this. It allows them to keep their halls and buildings in order."[10]
  • "Reasons to Vote Yes" as stated in the League of Women Voters description of the Public Question 1:[11]
  • Veterans' groups perform a valuable service. This amendment provides them with an additional source of revenue to support their organizations.
  • Some veterans' groups might not be able to continue serving their members without this additional source of revenue to cover increasing expenses such as rent and utilities.[7]

Opposition

Public Question 1 was unanimously referred to the ballot by the New Jersey State Legislature. The bill was unanimously approved and received zero "no" votes.

  • There are many worthwhile organizations other than veterans' and senior citizen groups. This amendment provides veterans' groups with an option not available to some other groups.
  • There are serious downsides to gambling, including addiction. Veterans' organizations could find less socially-risky sources to procure additional funds.[7]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of New Jersey ballot measures, 2013

Support

  • The Times of Trenton said, "Veterans groups say that without access to some of the funds they raise for essential repairs and rising costs, the aging facilities may be forced to close. And that would be a real shame because the veterans organizations are about much more than beef-and-beers. Chances are you’ve attended a reception at a VFW or American Legion post. They’re comfortable places for veterans to congregate, swap stories and perhaps let down the façade of a warrior enough to talk about problems of civilian life. The posts and halls are fixtures in the heart of many communities throughout New Jersey. Members arrange patriotic events such as parades and welcome-home ceremonies for returning troops. They also contribute in quieter ways — sponsoring scholarships, supporting homes for veterans, reminding us by their very presence that American men and women in uniform are dying in a war that the country seems to have forgotten about."[13]
  • The Press of Atlantic City said, "The Press urges a 'yes' vote on Public Question No. 1. But that's only because 'Huh? Of course' is not one of the options on the ballot. This passage of the constitution is more than a little arcane...We suspect the authors of this passage - which became part of the constitution in the 1950s - were worried about such groups becoming, in effect, mini casinos producing revenue for the organizations. But if senior-citizen groups and veterans organizations (assuming Public Question No. 1 is approved) can use the proceeds from games of chance to support their organizations, why shouldn't volunteer fire companies or any of the other groups authorized to conduct raffles, bingo and lotto games be able to do the same thing?"[14]
  • New Jersey Hills newspapers said, "This bill would allow posts to tap into a new source of revenue to cover their bills. It’s the least we can do for the men and women who have put their lives on the line for us."[15]
  • Courier-Post said, "If voters approve Public Question No. 1, such groups would be able to use the proceeds from their gaming events to pay their bills — a privilege already granted to seniors associations. There is absolutely no reason to deny veterans organizations the same ability to support themselves."[16]
  • The Star-Ledger said, "Twenty-five American Legion posts have disbanded in New Jersey over the past five years. Fifteen VFW posts have closed this year alone — victims of shrinking membership, as veterans of World War II and Korea die at a rate of hundreds every day nationally. Many posts fade away because their dwindling numbers can’t afford the upkeep on old buildings. Without dues-paying members, some need help just to cover monthly bills. Voters can help by voting “yes” on Ballot Question No. 1 in tomorrow’s election."[17]
  • The Asbury Park Press said, "Public Question No. 1 on the ballot Tuesday is a simple enough question: 'Do you approve amending the Constitution to allow veterans’ organizations to use money collected from existing games of chance to support their organizations?' The answer should be a no-brainer: 'Yes.' There are no good reasons to vote against this public question. It would allow veterans’ organizations to use the money collected from existing games of chance such as bingo, lotto or raffles to support their organizations."[18]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New Jersey Constitution

In New Jersey the state legislature must approve a proposed amendment by a supermajority vote of 60% but the same amendment can also qualify for the ballot if successive sessions of the New Jersey State Legislature approve it by a simple majority.

SCR 11, also known as Public Question 1, was referred to the ballot after unanimous votes in both houses. On May 13, 2013, the New Jersey State Senate voted 38 to 0 in approval of the measure, sending it to the General Assembly. On June 20, 2013, the New Jersey General Assembly voted 75 to 0 for placing the measure on the 2013 fall general election ballot.[4]

New Jersey Public Question 1, SCR 11 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 38 100%
No00%
New Jersey Public Question 1, SCR 11 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 75 100%
No00%

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. New Jersey Secretary of State, "Public Question No. 1," accessed September 16, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Newsworks.com,"N.J. voters to decide on use of veterans groups gambling proceeds," October 7, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 New Jersey State Senate, "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 11, "accessed September 16, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 NJ Assembly Majority Office, " Assembly Democratic Legislative Package to Support Veterans' Organizations Hit Hard by Economy Gets Final Legislative OK," June 20, 2013
  5. New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement,"Monthly gross revenue report for the month of December 2012," January 8, 2013
  6. New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement,"Monthly gross revenue report for the month of December 2011," January 10, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. New Jersey State Legislature, " 2012-2013 Legislative Session," accessed September 16, 2013 Search SCR11
  9. CentralJersey.com,"American Legion Urges Support of Public Question Number 1 in November," October 6, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 North Jersey.com,"Statewide ballot question would provide relief for veterans' organizations," October 31, 2013
  11. League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund,"Public Question #1," accessed October 1, 2013
  12. League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund,"Public Question #1," accessed October 1, 2013
  13. The Times of Trenton,"Editorial: N.J. voters should support referendum that helps veterans' groups raise funds," October 10, 2013
  14. The Press of Atlantic City,"Public Question No. 1 / Vote 'yes'," October 13, 2013
  15. Echoes-Sentinel,"Support the state ballot questions on Nov. 5," October 18, 2013
  16. Courier-Post,"EDITORIAL: Help veterans and workers by voting 'yes'," October 19, 2013
  17. The Star-Ledger,"Helping hand for veterans: Vote 'yes' on Question No. 1: Editorial," November 4, 2013
  18. Asbury Park Press,"Support vets on question 1," November 1, 2013